Then there is the classical poetics of China. A few centuries after Plato was narrating Socratic doubts about poetic copies of ideal forms, writers of the Han dynasty (after early third century B.C.) formulated a poetics in the Great Preface of the Shijing, the anthology of poems compiled, according to anachronistic tradition, by Confucius. The Great Preface prescribed the proper role of the Shijing, as teaching the reader to act rightly and ethically in concentric circles of government, from self-government at the innermost to government of the state at the outermost. In the opening note (titled "Procedure") to his pungent translation of the Confucian Analects (1951), Ezra Pound quoted this summary of poetics by Confucius, or Kung, the Master: "There are 300 Odes and their meaning can be gathered into one sentence: Have no twisty thoughts." Unlike the poetics of Aristotle, based on drama, classical Chinese poetics emerged from theories of music, and traditional Chinese poetics had no separate term for "poetry"; shi was the closest approximation, and originally it referred to the combination of the ancient musical repertoire and the lyrics sung to the music. The purpose of shi was the formation of personality in the literate, governing class and, consequently, of social harmony. In the formulation Miner adopts, Chinese poetics is "expressive-affective," meaning that it (" it" serving here as shorthand for an historically wide-ranging and diverse body of thinking, as Haun Saussy has patiently reminded me) focuses on conveying to the listener interior states of order and harmony, not on producing recognizable images of exterior phenomena. Eventually, when the old musical settings were forgotten, shi came to refer most commonly to the written texts of the songs they accompanied. To equate shi-as-music with form and shi-as-lyrics with content, on the model of Pope's formulation of sound and sense, would be to import a foreign duality and impose it where it has no relevance.
Here the perfectly reasonable rebuttal might be, Doesn't representing or imitating an emotion produce the emotion, and doesn't Aristotle's notion of catharsis point to the importance of affect in his poetics as well? The answer to the former would be perhaps (not all readers or watchers of King Lear will experience the same emotions as a rash and dispossessed old king), to the latter, yes indeed. One could also argue that any aesthetic arrangement designed to produce a particular emotion (one thinks here of Eliot's formulation of the objective correlative) could also be considered a representation of that emotion. All reasonable arguments, but in Aristotle's poetics, which is founded after all on a theory of drama, the road to affect, in the form of catharsis, necessarily leads through the watching of mimetic imitation of human actions. For Aristotle there is no affect without imitation, whereas in the Sanskrit understanding of sound imitation is irrelevant. OM imitates nothing larger or prior to itself. The important point here is that the Sanskrit theory of the rasa is closer to Panksepp's understanding of how sounds arouse subcortical emotional activity in a listener than it is to Pope's fiction that sounds echo neocortical sense. The rasa produced by the ornamentations of a poem is analogous to the harmonic vibrations produced by rubbing or striking a Tibetan or Himalayan singing bowl with a mallet. The vibrations generate a continuous hum that can support or enhance meditation, religious ritual, and healing. What the continuous hum does not do, or what it is not valued for, pace Winters, is representing or expressing the mind or spirit of the person who hammered the bowl into shape.
In the twentieth century the methods of poetry have also changed drastically, although the innovator here might be said to have been Baudelaire (1821-1867). The disassociation and recombination of ideas of the Cubists, the free association of ideas of the Surrealists, dreams, trance states, the poetry of preliterate people all have been absorbed into the practice of modern poetry. This proliferation of form is not likely to end. Effort that once was applied to perfecting a single pattern in a single form may in the future be more and more directed toward the elaboration of entirely new multimedia forms, employing the resources of all the established arts. At the same time, writers may prefer to simplify and polish the forms of the past with a rigorous, Neoclassicist discipline. In a worldwide urban civilization, which has taken to itself the styles and discoveries of all cultures past and present, the future of literature is quite impossible to determine.
Like lyric poetry, drama has been an exceptionally stable literary form. Given a little leeway, most plays written by the beginning of the twentieth century could be adjusted to the rules of Aristotles . Before World War I, however, all traditional art forms, led by painting, began to disintegrate, and new forms evolved to take their place. In drama the most radical innovator was August Strindberg (1849-1912), and from that day to this, drama (forced to compete with the cinema) has become ever more experimental, constantly striving for new methods, materials, and, especially, ways to establish a close relationship with the audience. All this activity has profoundly modified drama as literature.
Extended prose fiction is the latest of the literary forms to develop. We have romances from classical Greek times that are as long as short novels; but they are really tales of adventure vastly extended anecdotes. The first prose fiction of any psychological depth is the attributed to Petronius Arbiter (died AD 65/66). Though it survives only in fragments, supposedly one-eleventh of the whole, even these would indicate that it is one of the greatest picaresque novels, composed of loosely connected episodes of robust and often erotic adventure. The other great surviving fiction of classical times is the (known as ) by Apuleius (2nd century AD). In addition to being a picaresque adventure story, it is a criticism of Roman society, a celebration of the religion of Isis, and an allegory of the progress of the soul. It contains the justly celebrated story of Cupid and Psyche, a myth retold with psychological subtlety. Style has much to do with the value and hence the survival of these two works. They are written in prose of extraordinary beauty, although it is by no means of classical purity. The prose romances of the Middle Ages are closely related to earlier heroic literature. Some, like Sir Thomas Malorys fifteenth-century are retellings of heroic legend in terms of the romantic chivalry of the early Renaissance, a combination of barbaric, medieval, and Renaissance sensibility which, in the tales of Tristram and Isolt and Lancelot and Guinevere, produced something not unlike modern novels of tragic love.
Hippolyte Taine, the nineteenth-century French critic, evolved an ecological theory of literature. He looked first and foremost to the national characteristics of western European literatures, and he found the source of these characteristics in the climate and soil of each respective nation. His (5 vols., 1863-1869) is an extensive elaboration of these ideas. It is doubtful that anyone today would agree with the simplistic terms in which Taine states his thesis. It is obvious that Russian literature differs from English or French from German. English books are written by Englishmen, their scenes are commonly laid in England, they are usually about Englishmen and they are designed to be read by Englishmen at least in the first instance. But modern civilization becomes more and more a world civilization, wherein works of all peoples flow into a general fund of literature. It is not unusual to read a novel by a Japanese author one week and one by a black writer from West Africa the next. Writers are themselves affected by this cross-fertilization. Certainly, the work of the great nineteenth-century Russian novelists has had more influence on twentieth-century American writers than has the work of their own literary ancestors. Poetry does not circulate so readily, because catching its true significance in translation is so very difficult to accomplish. Nevertheless, for the past hundred years or so, the influence of French poetry upon all the literatures of the civilized world has not just been important, it has been preeminent. The tendentious elements of literature propaganda for race, nation, or religion have been more and more eroded in this process of wholesale cultural exchange.
William Faulkner understood this better than almost any other American writer. In “Absalom, Absalom,” incest is less of a taboo for an upper-class Southern family than acknowledging the one drop of black blood that would clearly soil the family line. Rather than lose its “whiteness” (once again), the family chooses murder.
The premier takes place in a church (San Domenico) in Perugia and "evokess something that is so indefinably simple and so overpowering that it forces us to our knees" as publicist and dance critic Walter Sorell writes. What ultimately links with ballets such as or is their experimental approach and their departure from tried and trusted thought and observation patterns.
Johnson's Rambler essay makes the crucial and checkmating point that Milton used the same sound embellishments in different lines that share no sense, thereby exploding the claim that particular sounds arise as a result of particular sense. What Panksepp's thinking helps us understand is that they do not need to share sense in order for us to enjoy the illusion in the case of each line that the sound fits the sense as though it were tailor-made for it, when in fact it was bought off the rack. The very activity of hearing and interpreting sound in terms of sense is a neocortical activity; sound arouses autonomous subcortical responses, but the neocortex jumps to read them as related to the sense the neocortex itself produces and understands. What is surprising about that? The neocortex is the Narcissus that wants to hear all sound as Echo in love with him. To switch the metaphor, in most of our practical criticism of poetry the neocortex behaves as a small modern colonizer appearing to bring sense and civilization to the much larger, uncharted continent of sound and primitive savagery.
To those who object that bringing principles from Sanskrit or Chinese poetics into Western classrooms looking at Western English-language poems betokens an unenlightened critical Orientalism, and is every bit as misguided and inappropriate as resorting to the form-content duality in talking about Chinese shi, one response is that the best pedagogical use of comparative poetics is not necessarily to substitute the greener grass of a seemingly exotic paradigm for the burnt-out lawn of our familiar one. When trying to help readers think more deeply about poetic form and content, sound and sense, the most helpful use of comparative poetics is as an invitation and an encouragement to move beyond reductive, deadening habits of reading that all too often are driven by compulsive obsession with representation, with reducing form or sound to a representation of content or sense.
There is a marked difference between true popular literature, that of folklore and folk song, and the popular literature of modern times. Popular literature today is produced either to be read by a literate audience or to be enacted on television or in the cinema; it is produced by writers who are members, however lowly, of an elite corps of professional literates. Thus, popular literature no longer springs from the people; it is handed to them. Their role is passive. At the best they are permitted a limited selectivity as consumers.